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Family daycare workers decry frustrating start to negotiations

Daycare FILE PHOTO. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck Daycare FILE PHOTO. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
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After months of delay, negotiations for the renewal of collective agreements for thousands of family daycare workers in Quebec have finally begun.

However, the largest group of workers, the Fédération des intervenantes en petite enfance du Québec (FIPEQ-CSQ), says it is dissatisfied with the offer it received from the Quebec government on April 11.

"If he wanted to axe family daycares, if that's his solution then he found it. Some people are going to leave. How do you expect to attract the next generation if you cut back on working conditions?" said FIPEQ President Valérie Grenon, arguing Quebec is moving backwards.

She points out Quebec law calls for six hours of compulsory professional training per year for workers.

The government used to pay $85 for the mandatory training, but now it does not want to.

She says Quebec also wants to abolish a committee to discuss childcare issues.

Financially, it's not enough, argued Grenon.

Family daycare workers are not paid the same as those in public childcare centres.

The latter are paid by the hour, while workers in family settings receive a subsidy from the Family Ministry to cover their wages and daycare expenses, such as groceries and toys.

Grenon says a daycare with six children, for example, receives an increase equivalent to 12.7 per cent over five years from Quebec, but inflation is higher than that.

Despite this somewhat frustrating start to negotiations, FIPEQ, which represents 8,500 family daycare workers, says it is determined to roll up its sleeves.

Another negotiation meeting is scheduled for May 6, and Grenon says the government seems ready to add more dates.

FIPEQ says it has not yet requested mediation, but it is not closing the door on the idea.

"For the moment, no", said Grenon when asked if workers are already talking about more intense pressure tactics.

The collective agreement for FIPEQ's 8,500 family daycare workers expired on March 31, 2023.

FIPEQ first submitted its demands in September 2023.

On April 11, 2024, the Quebec government submitted its offer.

It has not yet tabled a proposal for public daycare workers.

FIPEQ represents over 11,000 childcare workers in different types of daycares across Quebec.

-- This report by The Canadian Press was first published in French on April 25, 2024. 

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